I am 90 pounds overweight and just began taking the medication Orlistat. Is there another drug that works better than this? Are there any supplements you recommend?” –J.M., Dallas, Texas
Answer: Kudos to you for getting on the path to wellness. This topic could encompass an entire book and if there was one easy answer it would be great but there’s not. There isn’t a medication that I recommend for weight loss, although the Orlistat is commonly prescribed to assist in weight loss, it is not a fat burner. It is a fat blocker. It reduces intestinal fat absorption by blocking an enzyme called lipase. One way to prevent fat in the first place is to keep your cortisol levels down. Cortisol will rise in the presence of chronic stress, fear and grief and the hormone contributes to belly fat. You can evaluate cortisol and other adrenal hormones with urine and saliva tests.
There’s probably no faster way to lose weight than to just eat meats, veggies and nuts/seeds and drink only water, tea or coffee. Testing your thyroid is important because that is often very low, despite normal blood tests. Leptin resistance can cause you to hold on to weight, and leptin can be measured via blood tests too. How to test your thyroid and leptin is discussed in my new book, Thyroid Healthy. When you have adequate levels of thyroid hormone, you can turn food into fuel.
As for supplement aids, there are only a handful that can assist you, and I want you talk to your practitioner(s) before taking anything new, because I don’t know what’s right for you. In no particular order:
Tyrosine- An amino acid that is considered a gentle appetite suppressant. It helps you make thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism and burns fat. Turning calories into energy is important. Unburned calories equals stored fat on you. Tyrosine helps you make dopamine, a happy neurotransmitter that influences appetite. You often see this compound in thyroid supplements and diet aids.
Phenylalanine- An amino acid that helps you make tyrosine (see above) while also triggering the release of CCK (cholecystokinin), a compound that helps you feel full. It’s what we call a satiety hormone. People often take this amino acid before meals. If you take tyrosine, you would not need this and visa versa. People with phenylketonuria should never take this supplement.
Avocado extract- It comes as a capsule, tablet or powder. It’s a gentle appetite suppressant and people say it reduces carb cravings. It should improve your glutathione status. Glutathione is a major liver antioxidant that you want more of.
Cumin- A spice you can buy at any store that some tout as a natural appetite suppressant activity. Sprinkle it on food.
Peppermint tea- Drinking peppermint tea with your meal could help you reduce appetite, but be careful it may exacerbate reflux.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.